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I just Ultra-fied my Apple Watch
Nomad's new Rugged Case is perfect for anyone with a normal Apple Watch that wants a little more protection.
Over the weekend, I entered a fishing competition at my local yacht club. It was a “trash fishing” competition, which basically means anything that swims you can catch will count toward a prize. Any kind of fish, sharks, eels, you name it. For some reason, there was an exception for rays and crustaceans (I know the reason for both, I’m just rolling my eyes because it would’ve made the competition easier), but everything else counted.
What I wasn’t anticipating was how uneventful the tournament was. Four and a half hours on Saturday plus another four hours on Sunday standing on a dock directly in the gruesome August sun gave me more than a sunburn on the back of my legs—it gave me mind-numbing boredom.
Sure, I saw plenty of people return to the club with huge flounder and sharks to measure and weigh in, and there were plenty of laughs with friends and good drinks to be had. But I craved the excitement of years prior—when I’d reel in a shark every 15-20 minutes just to see if I could count it toward a prize—and that simply didn’t happen this time.
Bad fishing is bad fishing, amirite?
Anyway, I say all of this not to vent to you, dear reader. I say this to set the scene during my time testing Nomad’s latest Apple Watch accessory, the Rugged Case.
Nomad Rugged Case
The Rugged Case, a $120 case and strap combo for the Apple Watch, is Nomad’s latest entry in its rough-and-tough lineup of accessories for Apple products designed to be taken anywhere. It marks the first time Nomad has shipped a case for the Apple Watch, and I must admit, I’m pretty impressed.
For $120, you’re getting a very high-quality build. The case is made of 315L stainless steel, treated with a 1000 HV DLC coating on the outside for increased durability. Nomad doesn’t quote any specific drop tests or military certifications, but it’s safe to say it’ll survive practically any accidental bang or tumble onto rough terrain.
Because they’re one of the best Apple Watch band creators, Nomad took its own Rugged Band and integrated it directly with the case. It’s the same FKM fluoroelastomer rubber band we’re all familiar with, complete with a stainless steel buckle and lugs. The whole package feels incredibly premium, which you’d expect for such a high asking price.
Installing the Apple Watch is easy: you slide it in Digital Crown first, then push in the rest. Nomad warns you before you install it that inserting it the opposite way will result in damage to your watch, so you’ll definitely want to follow the instructions here. (The thing’s made of steel, after all.)
Once it’s in, secure the band to your wrist and you’re good to go.
An Ultra-great case
I used the Rugged Case during the fishing tournament so my Apple Watch would be safe if I bumped into a pillar on the dock or, y’know, fell into the water when the wind picked up. Lo and behold, the case was a great addition to my setup for the tournament.
It kept my Apple Watch safe from any damage, it survived every hard object I swung my arm into, and it looked awesome while doing so.
Speaking of which, I can’t help but draw a comparison to the Apple Watch Ultra. The Rugged Case, while much more similar to a G-Shock than a $799 Apple-branded smartwatch, has a very similar shape to the high-end fitness wearable. It also comes with an steel, orange cover for the side button. It can be swapped for a black one (which comes in the box), but the orange is installed by default, so it’s clear what aesthetic Nomad is going for.
It’s also evident that the Rugged Case can Ultra-fy your Apple Watch based on the size it comes in: 45mm/44mm. That’s right—you can’t get the case for the smaller 41mm Apple Watch, which is kind of a shame. I don’t know if Nomad has any plans to roll it out to the smaller models, but with enough peer pressure from fans and consumers, I can see them releasing it some time in the future.
Still, the Rugged Case is very much for those with the standard Apple Watch in its larger format who want the extra durability from the Ultra. No, you’re not going to get the insane diving protection or improved GPS from the Rugged Case, but you’ll get that sense of ruggedness and durability nomads (pun intended) crave.
Should you buy it?
If you want one of the best cases available for your Apple Watch, it’s hard for me to not recommend the Nomad Rugged Case. As long as you’re comfortable paying $120 for it (and you’re cool with the only color option being Black), this case will not let you down. It’s built extremely well, it looks awesome, and it’ll protect your Apple Watch better than most lower-end cases can.
I’ll be wearing mine each time I go kayaking, fishing, or other excursions where I need to keep my Apple Watch protected. It’s worth considering if you’re in a similar boat (pun once again intended) as me.
It’s available on nomadgoods.com starting today.